The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney (USSC) today released an online interactive report using the Global Innovation Index (GII) to compare Australia and the United States' innovation performance.

Specifically, it looks at the major areas that Australia lacks in its efforts to build a more innovative economy, especially when compared to the United States, including business expenditures on research and development, venture capital, and research talent in business. It also uses state-level indicators not included in the GII, enabling a comparison of certain innovation factors between Australian states and US states.

"Despite Australia putting considerable effort and resources into trying to be more innovative, it has yet to see the results matching the effort, ranking 23rd overall on the Global Innovation Index, behind New Zealand and China," said Claire McFarland, director of the USSC's Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program.

"Australia is clearly an inefficient innovator, ranking a lowly 76th out of 127 countries in the GII's innovation efficiency ratio."

However, breaking with broader Australian results, NSW Trade and Industry Minister Niall Blair said the USSC research showed NSW was leading on a number of key measures.

"NSW is Australia’s business innovation capital and the leading Australian state when it comes to business spending on research and development, and innovation," Blair said.

"In fact we rank 19th among the full list of 59 Australian and US states when it comes to R&D spending as a proportion of Gross State Product, ahead of US states including New York and Texas.

"The United States is a vitally important partner for NSW. Our Trade and Investment office in San Francisco last financial year generated more than AUS$271 million in foreign direct investment, attracting tech companies like WeWork, Tilt and Procore to NSW."

The United States may be ranked as the fourth most innovative country in the world, but it remains a top destination for the output of Australia’s innovation – and much of the world’s. As a close ally in economic, military, intelligence, and diplomatic spheres, the research released today details what Australia does well compared to the United States and what Australia can perhaps learn from the United States' success.

"From a policy perspective, Australia would benefit from incentivising foreign venture capital firms to be based in Australia, fostering an environment that welcomes both skilled immigrants and anchor firms, increasing domestic awareness of the skills shortage in the existing and future workforce, and an international campaign that raises awareness of the role Australia can play in a global innovation ecosystem," said co-author and USSC research fellow Jared Mondschein.

View the full interactive report here.

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